Being Led in the Dance

I have a confession to make – I always envied Fred Astair, Gene Kelly and many others who were able to do the song and dance routines in the movies. I would hum along and think about those moves but I knew I did not have the motor skills to do that very well.

About 8 years ago at Trinity Church in  Rochester I was in my altar-ego costume as Big Bozo the clown at a fundraising dinner, where a folk group called Hammers & Pick was playing Irish music.  Despite my lack of motor skills I found myself dancing – it was fine and funny. With the liberty afforded me by being a clown I was then able to invite someone to dance with me. It was fun and joyful for me and for everyone else as well despite my lack of ability. (It is the closest I will ever get to Broadway.)

In every culture and tribe there is some form of dance. Dance I believe is innate in us. It is a natural way to being in relationship with one another, with God, with music, with the universe. Dance is important and fun and life giving – even if we do not do it very well. I suspect there was dance long before there were musical instruments.

Sunday is Trinity Sunday. In some ways it is difficult to preach this Sunday because there are NO Trinity stories in scripture. The Trinity is theology – come from Theos and Logos literally God Talk.

Trinity celebrates people’s experience of God as creator/Father; Jesus as Son, and the Spirit who dwells within us and sustains us in our life in the world. But it also does something else we do not think about.

According to C.S. Lewis “…perhaps the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions: is that in Christianity God is not a static thing–not even a person–but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.”

Perhaps our innate love of movement and dance is part of our being created in God’s image – Trinity is a way to describe this dynamic, pulsating life-dance of God. This may account for the popularity of 1930s and 40s musicals, and of Dancing with the Stars.When we dance we find that we express ourselves – pour ourselves into this and by so doing express some of who we are so that it overflows and allows others to enter into the dance as well.

And that is what we discover about the Trinity as well. In this experience of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God is pouring out Gods own self so that we can experience and participate in God’s life.  It is possible to dance alone – but usually it is better and more life-giving to dance with others. And we so often need to invite another to join us in our dance. That is our role as people of faith – to invite others to join us in this dance that feeds our spirit and give us life and joy.

By baptism we are initiated into God so that we know our role is to join in the dance of life; in these outpourings of our life we invite others to share in the life and light and joy of God’s life seen in and expressed through us and overflowing into the lives of others. It doesn’t matter whether we are skilled as dancers – as one old friend of mine observed – we dance for ourselves to live and feel alive – not for how we look to others. This dance of God is the dance of life. This dance is how we create and carryout inspired worship.  This dance is how we love, when we have run out of patience or energy.  This dance is how we speak to those who have hurt us.  This dance is how we pray for our enemies. This dance is how we become Good News in the lives of others … and allow others to be Good News in our life as well. In a hymn by Sydney Carter called Lord of the Dance the chorus says: 

Dance then, wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He!
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said He!

So let’s not be afraid to let God lead us in the dance of life… nor be afraid to invite others to join us in God’s  dance so we may all be life giving to one another and to the world.


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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